Saturday, July 10, 2010
When the going gets tough, we always need the right man in the right place at the right time. July 7, 2010 in the Durban Stadium, it was still 0-0 after an hour in the World Cup semi final between Spain and Germany. In minutes 72, Xavi sent in a long cross from the corner, Pique shielded Khedira out of the play and went to head the ball. He didn't reach it to break the deadlock, but suddenly up stepped Puyol from the nowhere of the area slammed to finish it. As he leaps, he clashed in the air with Pique, the first man he hugged after seeing the ball flew in. That head to send home and finally break the solid German defenses. Carles Puyol is the man, he just repeated a goal he had already scored at the Santiago Bernabeu on May 2009, the day Barca crushed Madrid 6-2. Like then, Puyol headed home a Xavi cross.
Carles Puyol Saforcada was born 13 April 1978 in Catalonia who plays only for Barcelona and the Spanish national team to his life. Widely known as a cruiser and all-round footballer, his main position is as the central defender especially as a right back and he serves as a longtime team captain for FC Barcelona since August 2004. Puyol used to be a good goalkeeper as a child. However after his injured shoulder, he switched to the striker until eighteen. In Youth Barcelona 1995 he found ideal position to play as a defensive midfielder, then coach Louis van Gaal promoted him to the first team in 1999 as the central defender. His defensive system and fighting spirit was being awarded as the "Best European Right Back" by UEFA 2002, and Man-United showed interest in acquiring him. But his heart remains still, Puyol extended his contract for another five seasons to Barca.
He continues to be the defensive cornerstone for Catalans and his loyalty has been acknowledged further in the awards as "Best European Center Back" in 2005, 2006 and 2008, as well as the "UEFA Club Best Defender" trophy in 2006. For his Barca and Spain, Puyol has only scored eleven goals so far. That makes an average of one season since he first appeared for Barca in 1999 and made his international debut in 2000. Eight of these goals were for Catalans, six in la Liga and two in the Champions League. While he's been on target three times for Spain, once in friendly match against Northern Ireland, then met Estonia in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, and last night with his single goal to send Germany home. Then Barca fans refer that powerful header to the El Clasico history has repeated itself with the same actors.
May 2, 2009 in Santiago Bernabeu Stadion at 20th minute of the Clasico, from the corner Xavi indicated a set play and sent the ball into the area. Then Pique shielded Metzelder and Higuain, and suddenly Puyol without anyone's consent has bulleted forward to head the ball over Casillas. To add the curious circumstances, Xavi had a shot and Pique shielded the play in the same fashion that Puyol had done in the same famous victory. A delightful piece of football, that will always be remembered in the way Puyol celebrated it by indicating the Catalan flag on his shirt. Both goals were also hugely valuable. Against Madrid, that second goal made Barca moved ahead of Madrid in the league campaign, and the repetition was the judgment finished that sent Spain into the World Cup final for the very first time.
With all curiosity, Puyol also made his international debut against Spain's opponents in Sunday's World Cup final, Holland. That was on November 15, 2000, he was on the field for 55 minutes at that time in a friendly that the Orange won 2-1. Ten years after then, what will Puyol get as a Heart of Catalans this time? The Euro 2008 winners and Puyol's World Club Championship 2009 were obviously dominated possession in Durban but the Spanish initially struggled to create clear openings against Germany young side. Spain eventually needs another sledgehammers in the next final battle. (*)
Match Stats, Germany - Spain :
Time of Possession: 49% - 51%
Shots (on Goal): 5 (2) - 13 (5)
Fouls : 9 - 7
Corner : 6 - 7
Offsides: 2 - 1
Yellow Cards: 0 - 0
Red Cards: 0 - 0
Saves: 4 - 2